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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
General Health Channel
Reported March 23, 2011

Drano For Clogged Arteries -- Research Summary

BACKGROUND: Dr. Bradley Strauss, the Chief of the Sunnybrook Schulich Heart Centre and the Reichmann Chair of Cardiovascular Sciences, is conducting a clinical trial on a new treatment for patients with coronary arteries that are completely blocked by plaque. The treatment is the first biological solution ever developed to treat blocked arteries. During the therapy, the enzyme collagenase is injected into a blocked artery to soften the plaque. Once the plaque is softened, a cardiologist can perform traditional angioplasty by sliding a guide-wire through the otherwise impenetrable blockage and inserting a stent to re-open the artery. The end result is a restoration of blood flow.  (SOURCE:

OVERVIEW: The coronary arteries are blood vessels that supply the heart muscle with the blood, oxygen and nutrients it needs to keep functioning. When coronary arteries become narrowed or clogged, blood is not able to reach the heart, which over time, can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, or in some cases, a heart attack. These blood vessels can become blocked with fatty buildup of plaque in a process called atherosclerosis. That plaque, which is comprised of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances, narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow. Coronary artery blockage can be treated in many different ways, and according to the Mayo Clinic, treatments may be tailored to the patient, based on the severity of the condition. A variety of different medications are used to treat coronary artery disease. If that doesn’t work, physicians may suggest surgery or coronary angioplasty.

This new procedure is good for patients who experience symptoms that would be relieved with angioplasty. Coronary angioplasty is not surgery. It opens a clogged coronary artery by inflating a tiny balloon in it. Many people with blocked arteries can benefit from angioplasty. However, in some cases, the blockages are so cemented that it is often impossible to get a guide-wire through them. Past efforts to treat patients with these types of blockages have been focused on designing stronger, more deliberate guide-wires to force through the blockage. However, the success rates for those methods are low. As a result, many patients are not candidates for the procedure and either have to be treated with medication alone or undergo bypass surgery. With this new procedure, scientists are testing to see if collagenase can soften the plaque to allow a cardiologist to perform a successful angioplasty. (SOURCE:

CLINICAL TRIAL: Dr. Strauss and his team of clinician-scientists at Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Centre are conducting a phase I, first-in-human clinical trial to test the safety and effectiveness of the new procedure. Study participants were selected from a group of Sunnybrook patients who have had at least one failed angioplasty attempt. An independent data safety monitoring board is responsible for reviewing the results and monitoring any adverse effects. The trial results will be used to determine the best dose for a large-scale clinical trial. The clinical trial is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). MORE


Laurie Legere, Communications Advisor
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
(416) 480-6100 ext. 7351

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